Pennsylvania Department of Transportation workers broke a water main Wednesday while filling a recently discovered void under a railroad bridge on North Lime Street, flooding a medical center, according to a city official.

That's forced the Lancaster Cleft Palate Clinic to close Thursday – its busiest day – and possibly longer, according to Susan Scott, director of operations.

And because power has also been shut off as a safety precaution, the staff can't access electronic medical records to let the 35 to 40 patients know it's closed, she said. Some patients travel more than an hour.

Matt Metzler, the city’s deputy public works director, said PennDOT workers caused the break.

“PennDOT pumped a whole bunch of flowable fill today, more than we were expecting at one shot," he said.

Workers were supposed to pour the concrete in phases over days so it could cure after each pour, he said.

"They just went gangbusters” Metzler said. "They didn’t follow the plan we talked about."

A PennDOT spokesman said he was trying to find out what happened.

City workers were not involved in filling the void, Metzler said, but they did help clean up the mess.

Scott said about six to eight inches of water entered through a wall into the basement, which houses some staff, a research area and “unfortunately, a lot of the mechanics that run the dental equipment."

If that equipment is damaged, the clinic will have to be closed longer, she said, hoping that's not the case.

On the other hand, she said, because of the problem, more people will likely learn about the clinic, which offers comprehensive care for children born with cleft lips and palates and other craniofacial anomalies.

"I try to look on the bright side," she said.


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